The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

First hive check

Bees building a new comb.Yesterday was the big day --- time to open up the hive and see how our new friends are doing.  Mark's still fighting off the plague, so I decided to leave him in bed and open up the hive myself.  I have to admit, I was intimidated by the idea of hundreds of stinging insects whizzing around my head, so by the time I finished up my computer work and headed outside my stomach was in knots.

I got the smoker lit and popped off the hive lids, bees flying in every direction.  After I finally took a deep breath, though, I realized the bees weren't really all that concerned about me.  I puffed on a little smoke, but it didn't seem to be necessary.

All is well in our new hive.  The queen has eaten her way out of her traveling cage, and her workers are already building comb in three or four of the frames.  The foundation strips had fallen out of two other frames, so I fumbled around for a while, brushed the bees off the frames, and replaced the foundation.  I also took out the entrance reducer and moved the sugar syrup feeder to the front of the hive so that I could remove the extra brood box (and see how full the feeder is without disturbing the hive.)

I was a bit too intimidated to really poke at the newly drawn comb and see whether there were any eggs visible --- which would be proof positive that the queen hasn't flown the coop.  I'll check the hive again this weekend, by which point I hope to have built up a bit more courage.  Because, really, I had nothing to worry about.  Our bees continue to be exceedingly gentle.  I'm very glad we chose the gentle Italians, even though they're not as disease resistant as some other varieties.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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So, I found out last night that a little birdhouse on our fence is actually now a bee house!! Is there a way I can keep them around? Are there any resources that you could recommend that I look into? I'm a long way from starting a colony like you are doing but I feel like there are probably little things that I can do to make my yard even more appealing...
Comment by Jessica Fri Apr 17 10:37:30 2009
I'm definitely no expert on bees, but from what I've been reading they have quite simple needs. You can keep them happy by making sure there's something blooming at all times --- keep an eye out for gaps in the growing season and find a flower that blooms then to add to the yard. You can also put out a birdbath with marbles in it so that they have plenty of water. That should keep them very happy!
Comment by anna Sun Apr 19 08:13:18 2009

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